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What Makes a Quality Leather Bag?

These Aren't Your Typical Leather Bags

Most bags on the market use cheaper chrome tanned leather and metal hardware. We're doing something very different. By using only the finest vegetable tanned full grain leather and solid brass hardware, we're creating modern bags with old school heritage craftsmanship that is exceedingly rare these days. 

We Use Only the Top 1% of Leather

The type of leather we use is so rare that we estimate less than 1% of the world’s leather would meet our standards. There are 4 factors involved. 

 

leather quality chart

 

1. Leather Grade: Full Grain Leather

We use only full grain leather to make our leather goods. This is important because most leather products are made of “genuine leather.” Watch our video to learn the differences and why genuine leather is usually the worst grade of leather. Full grain leather has all of its layers intact and is the strongest, most natural form of leather. Simply put, full grain leather is the best you can get. 

2. Tanning Method: Vegetable Tanned Leather

Our leather is also 100% vegetable tanned, which means it undergoes a specific tanning process that very few bags on the market use. Vegetable tanning refers to the organic plant matter like tree bark used in the tanning process. It’s the oldest form of leather tanning and has been around for centuries. It is also the most natural and environmentally friendly tanning method. Vegetable tanned leather can be made thicker, has more body, smells amazing and ages better - developing a rich patina over time. Learn about vegetable tanning.

But less than 10% of the world's leather is tanned this way. Most leather is chrome tanned, which uses harsh chemicals and is much cheaper and quicker. It can be done in a few days as opposed to the 6 weeks it takes for vegetable tanning. To learn more about the differences, watch this video.

Note that "vegetable tanned" is not necessarily the same as 100% vegetable tanned leather. Some companies use a combo method that is primarily chrome tanned, with a "splash" of vegetable tanning at the end of the process. So if you want vegetable tanned leather (and you should!) make sure it's 100% vegetable tanned. 

3. Hide Selection: Cream of the Crop

The type of leather we use is commonly referred to as bridle leather or harness leather. It’s been used in the equestrian industry for centuries. It's designed to hold back a raging stallion, so we're confident it can hold your MacBook. 

Since bridle leather is an ultra-premium product, our tannery only uses the best of the best hides to make bridle leather. In fact, it takes awhile to accumulate enough of those hides to make a batch of our bridle leather, adding to the rarity. 

4. Cattle Type: U.S. Steerhide

We use certified U.S. steerhides to make our leather. These are large healthy cattle that produce strong hides from specific breeds raised in the USA. The same type of cattle my Grandpa Wayne raised. A lot of leather on the market is made from smaller breeds, older or thinner cows. You know what happens to your skin when you’re old and thin? It’s the same for cattle.

When all 4 of these factors come together, it produces an extraordinary leather. This type of leather costs about 3 times more to produce, but it’s worth it.

Solid Brass Hardware

We use solid brass hardware with an antique brass finish. Using real solid brass hardware is nearly unheard of these days - but it's the way things used to be made. It costs about 6 times more than most metal hardware for bags. It’s difficult to produce and harder to find. But it’s worth it because it lasts. It feels substantial in your hands and ages well because it’s highly resistant to corrosion and cracking.

I love our zippers. They’re made in California and are essentially bulletproof. I got to see the factory where they’re made and it’s quite a place. They custom dye our zipper fabric for us and the machining of the metal is so precise that these zippers practically zip themselves.  

American Heritage Canvas

We use Martexin Original Wax canvas. Martexin is an American heritage fabric company that’s been around since 1838. The fabrics are truly works of art – thick, durable, and water repellent. They have a substantial feel to them and a toughness and durability that is just what we seek. We use a heavier waxed version for exterior parts and a lighter non-waxed (but water repellent) version for interiors. To read more about Martexin canvas, click here.

Heavy Gauge Thread

The thread is often overlooked because it’s pretty boring to think about thread. But without good quality thread, there is no way a bag will last. We use heavy gauge bonded thread to make our leather goods. We typically “size-up” for added strength, which is just the type of overkill we love to incorporate.

Finished Edges

For any exposed edges, we use a high quality edge finishing process. The result is a tastefully painted edge that adds to the durability and aesthetic of the product. It's an expensive and labor-intensive process, but finished edges are one of those details that matter.

Handcrafted by Artisans

This is an old school artisan process, with each product meticulously handcrafted to last. For years, we made our products in the USA at a small factory, which we outgrew. Our new products are now handcrafted by artisans in one of the world’s premier luxury bag factories in the Dominican Republic. We still have several USA made products, as indicated on the product pages. And we continue to source many of our materials in the USA.